Wildfire Season: Are You Prepared?

Posted in: Featured, Ranch Life

If a wildfire strikes near your home, what will you do? If your answer is “I have no idea,” then it’s high time you started getting an idea. July is here, and it’s a hot month that typically brings thunder storms – and subsequently lightning strikes – to many parts of America.

Despite Smokey Bear’s friendly admonition that “Only YOU can prevent a forest fire,” the vast majority of wildfires are started by lightning strikes. By this time of year, grasses and shrubs are dry and in prime condition for wildfire fuel, so it’s best to have an emergency fire plan well before the storm starts brewing. In addition to ourselves and our human family members, we rural dwellers have livestock, pets, and long miles of rough dirt road to consider when structuring our emergency wildfire plans.

Here are a few key points to keep in mind when preparing yourself and your animals for wildfire season. Feel free to add your own suggestions to this list in the comments. We’d love to learn more about preparing ourselves for a safe fire season!

1)Make a firebreak around your house and barn. Clear an area about 30′ wide that is free of anything that will burn, such as wood piles, dried leaves, brush, etc.

2)When you smell smoke, always stop and identify the source. It’s better to know that the fire is 200 miles away and the smoke is drifting toward you on the wind rather than wonder if it’s 2 miles away and about to overtake your property.

3)If you see a wildfire and haven’t received evacuation orders yet, call 9-1-1. Don’t assume that someone else has already called it in.

4)Make sure you have plenty of garden hoses that will connect and reach the areas closest to your home and barn. Make sure your house and each vehicle contains a fire extinguisher at all times. If caught immediately, a small fire can be quickly extinguished.

5)If a fire is in your area, turn on your TV, radio or computer and pay attention to fire alerts and evacuation notices.

6)Know all the exits from your house. Is there more than one way to get off the ranch? What will you do if one or more exits is blocked?

7)Know your GPS location in case you need to tell fire personnel or rescue workers.

8)Keep the horse trailer tires aired up and your towing vehicle full of fuel so you are ready to hook up, load up and drive to safety at a moment’s notice.

9)Evacuate early with animals.

10)Grab your prescription medicines, important financial documents, and other vital items when evacuating. Pack food and water for a few days.

11)If you evacuate, notify someone where you’re going, then notify them when you arrive. Texts are preferred to phone calls, as text messages keep the cell phone network from getting clogged.

12)If your horse panics because of the smoke and he won’t load in the trailer, tie a blindfold around his eyes. Use whatever you have handy – a pair of jeans or a burlap sack work great. If the smell of smoke is panicking him, put a dab of Vick’s VapoRub in each nostril to temporarily block his sense of smell.

13)If the fire is moving too quickly and you can’t trailer your horses out, open the gates and/or cut fences on the side of the pasture farthest from the fire.

14)If you can’t evacuate, take towels and get in the largest body of water you can find. People die of smoke inhalation before burns from the flames. You will be more protected and better able to breathe if you drench a towel, then hold it over your head so you have cleaner air to breathe.


Photo credit: Wikimedia

Posted in: Featured, Ranch Life

About Jolyn Young

Jolyn Young lives near Montello, NV with her cowboy husband and 3 small kids. For more, visit www.jolynyoung.com....

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